Maj. Shani Thompson, commander of the Fort Leavenworth Dental Clinic Command, was the guest speaker at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Luncheon on Thursday at the Frontier Conference Center.
Thompson quoted often from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech in August 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” she quoted from King’s speech.
She said King’s speech “was a defining moment of the civil rights movement.”
Thompson said she grew up in Miami, Florida, but her parents grew up in a small town in Alabama. She said they spoke often about King as a courageous leader, scholar and man of God.
Thompson said her parents often took the family to visit landmarks of King’s life and activism such as his birth place in Atlanta, Georgia, and to the site of the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.
She said the family also visited the jail in Birmingham, Alabama, where King wrote his response to being arrested for his non-violent protest of unjust laws in the south.
“We know that we cannot single-handedly solve the problems of discrimination and race relations in America,” she said. “But we can have a conversation about how we can continue to maintain focus on Dr. King’s dream.”
Thompson said King was a “great leader” and great leaders have courage, candor, competence and commitment.
“We must always remember, celebrate the strides we have made in our society, continue to take action toward equality and tolerance for all,” she said. “We can continue to act and keep Dr. King’s dream alive.”